A story of an international student: homesickness

When I left Indonesia, I didn’t think I’d get homesick like other international students. Whenever people asked me, “will you miss your hometown when you’re in the United States?” my answer would always be the same: “Nope.” I didn’t think there was something awesome enough from my city that I would miss when I arrived in the States. I wasn’t that close to my parents, especially my dad. I prefer to share my stories with my friends rather than with my mom or dad. So I felt super confident that I would easily adapt to American college life without spending a single night in tears, missing home.
But everything changed exactly two months ago.
That night, I was sitting alone in my room, staring at my laptop and looking at posts on Facebook. Nothing grabbed my attention until I scrolled down to a video about my hometown, Malang. “Let’s check this out,” I told myself, and I clicked the link. For the first two minutes of the video, I kept a straight face. By the third, I was drowning in tears. There was this voice screaming inside my heart: I miss Malang, the foods, the streets, and everything! For the first time, it hit me that I would not be able to eat my favorite bakso bakar and pangsit mie.
A few weeks later, I was strolling through the streets of the University District with my friends on a sunny morning. We were having so much fun, until a young couple crossed in front of us with their white, fluffy, cute Maltese dog. The feeling of missing my pet hit me right in the heart when I saw that dog, because it looked like a precise duplicate of Kobe, my dog in Indonesia. My friends might not realize this, but I almost cried with a super ugly face because of that. I looked down, pretending that I wanted to watch my step when actually I was trying to hold back my tears.
Let me tell you, this problem is not actually a long-term internal conflict. I got over it. But yeah, this is not a simple thing either, because now we live a thousand miles away from home! I can only go home once a year — I’d like to go twice, but brother, who has the money for that? — so visiting regularly isn’t really an option.
So I came up with some solutions. Well, I was lucky that my national cuisine was sold here by a restaurant named Indo Cafe, because I could stop by and eat some of my favorite dishes. Indonesian food in Seattle is not totally authentic, actually, but at least I could enjoy a touch of Indonesia. There are few menus that I like there, but my two favorite dishes are mie ayam spesial and ayam goreng mbok berek. To be very honest, I never even knew that these foods were really delicious until I left Indonesia.
Yet, I noticed sometimes food has a different effect on other people. There was one day when I caught my friend from Hong Kong staring sadly at a plate of pork fried rice. Curiosity made me ask him why he looked so sad. His answer surprised me: fried rice made him miss his country. I realized that food could either cure or cause homesickness.
If eating national dishes is not enough, I discovered other solutions. I make friends with other international students from different countries, like Thailand and Macau. It has lots of benefits, besides the chance to practice speaking English, we have empathy for each other since me and my fellow international students share the same experience of being far away from our homes. We can talk to each other and share our experiences. The best thing is, my friends share their homesickness issues, which are mostly similar to mine, and give me suggestions to soothe it. Getting involved in school clubs and volunteering at events is also a perfect idea because it keeps me busy and distracted from the sad feeling. I just have fun and don’t let the international student blues attack me! There are always friends who will support you and be your second family. I’ve only been here in Shoreline for two months, but I found my brothers and sisters already.

_Adelia Sindunata

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